U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), and a bipartisan group of 25 other senators sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk Friday urging for him to address the drastic decline of U.S. pork exports to Russia.
In the letter, the senators listed several developments that have negatively affected the U.S. pork industry and pushed Ambassador Kirk to obtain commitments from Russia to address these issues in upcoming negotiations for Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization.
Minnesota is the nation's third largest pork producer, with 2,500 farms and more than 20,000 jobs in hog production and pork processing.
"Pork producers in Minnesota and across the nation have suffered from restricted access to Russian markets," Klobuchar said. "The U.S. pork industry plays a significant role in our economy and U.S. pork producers should be able to sell their products in international markets without unfair barriers. I will continue to push the Administration to hold Russia accountable for its commitments and to expand opportunities for U.S. exports overseas."
Russia has previously been one of the largest export markets for U.S. pork producers, but two major developments over the last few years have resulted in a drastic decline in the amount of pork being exported to Russia. First, Russia has not fulfilled its commitment on the global import tariff-rate quota with pork and, second, the country has implemented several unjustifiable sanitary restrictions on U.S. pork.
As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation, and Export Promotion, Klobuchar has fought to keep international markets open to U.S. pork producers. Following Russia's decision in 2009 to refuse U.S. pork products, Klobuchar sent a letter to President Obama requesting that he use all available means to restore the normal trade of U.S. pork to Russia. Klobuchar also worked with her colleagues to successfully reopen the Chinese market to U.S. pork exports in the spring of 2010.
Source: Office of Sen. Amy Klobuchar